Charles Barkley’s Stand Against Discrimination: Take The All-Star Game From North Carolina

The reaction to the passage of North Carolina’s HB2, a mean-spirited bill that will unlikely pass constitutional muster, has been swift and mostly unified.

HB2 makes it illegal for transgender men and women to use the bathroom most closely associated with their gender identity while barring local officials from enacting anti-LGBT protections.

Famed power forward, Charles Barkley, is pushing the National Basketball Association (NBA) to pull the 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina.

Barkley issued a series of statements yesterday arguing that discrimination is wrong in all its permutations. Period. ““As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination, against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it,” Barkley said in a CNN interview. “It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves. So I think the NBA should move the All-Star Game from Charlotte.”

Barkley added, “Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me. As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

Apparently the NBA agrees. They issued a statement yesterday as well stating that all options are on the table including pulling the game. “The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the league said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect, and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

But despite their stand, at least one major sports franchise, the National Football League (NFL) has no plans to move their upcoming owners’ meetings out of Charlotte. “We embrace diversity and inclusiveness in all of our policies,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN.com. “The Panthers have made clear their position of non-discrimination and respect for all their fans. The city of Charlotte also has made clear its position.”

The NBA All-Star Game is a prestige event and while claims about their overall economic impact can prove wily, there is no debating that most cities are willing to bank on even the most conservative estimates of what an event of that magnitude can generate for its host city.